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Planning system delaying efforts to meet housing demand

Problems with the country's planning system are causing significant delays in the delivery of new homes, a new report from the Irish Homebuilders Association (IHBA) shows.

The report identifies the planning reforms needed to expedite the delivery of housing in Ireland and also recommends practical and achievable improvements to the planning system.

These include improved resourcing for local authorities and An Bord Pleanala, fast tracking the establishment of an electronic planning system and streamlining design standards to reduce costs and maximise space available for developments.

It is estimated that the country needs on average of between 33,000 and 36,000 new homes every year for the next two decades.

But James Benson, director with the IHBA, said we are trying to meet the demands of the 21st Century with a 20th Century planning system.

"The result is unnecessary delays to homebuilding up and down the country" Mr. Benson added. The report recommends the urgent establishment of an electronic planning system to speed up and promote greater participation in the planning process.

It also urges greater use of Outline Planning Permissions to help define strategic design and planning issues at the outset, rather than at the end, in order to reduce costs.

The introduction of "viability testing" on all plans to ensure equitable weighting to market requirements should also be considered, while a thorough root and branch review of the planning system - as committed to in 2017 - should be undertaken.

In order to remove barriers for the speedy delivery of new homes, the IHBA said a more equitable treatment of vacant site levies nationally should be introduced.

The association also said that Local Authorities should provide a schedule of all zoned lands to identify any barriers to delivery of homes, while it urged the removal of Irish Water "bureaucracy" as an impediment to commencing development on sites.

It also called for measures to ensure that adequate resources are deployed at local authority and An Bord Pleanala level to avoid delays.

Report prepared by Tom Phillips Associates on behalf of the IHBA.

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